Keith Rankin makes music under the moniker Giant Claw. Like his visual art, his music glistens with detail, evidence of a rigorous sculpting process relying on experiments with sound and form. Mirror Guide, the fourth full-length Giant Claw LP released through the label Orange Milk, which he co-founded and runs along with Seth Graham, joins a wide catalog including 2017’s Soft Channel and 2014’s Dark Web, albums that have been described as “high contrast experimental electronic art” and “mecha-chamber music” with a focus on the juxtaposition of composition with software-generated indeterminacy. Though Mirror Guide spans a program of high definition sound design and labyrinthine harmonic arrangements, at its core the album focuses on the central voice of a hyperreal, virtual cello performance — manifesting in its final form as something like a concerto for lead instrument and varied accompaniments.
Breaking from his long-standing practice of manipulating samples of mainstream pop vocals into unrecognizable volleys of melody, Rankin couples the central cello of Mirror Guide with contributions from a roster of guest vocalists including NTsKi, Tamar Kamin, and Diana Gruber. The album presents both his most organic experiments somewhere on the outskirts of the pop tradition, and his most progressive explorations of instrumental composition.
1. I hope there’s alien disclosure soon
2. Almost every episode of Star Trek TNG gave me goosebumps
3. Performing live stresses me out
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
Other music and art I love, sounds that are new to me, the idea of using music as its own language to communicate complex emotion.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
Really young after hearing chord changes on the radio, I was instantly obsessed with music and how it might be made.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Philip Glass – Glassworks
Triad God – Triad
Sophie – Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides
Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Symphonic Suite Akira
Chaka Khan – I Feel For You
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
I’ve never been, I occasionally see people online joking about the cliche of artists wanting to move there.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
My apartment, or a movie theater or under a bridge.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
You could spend a long time imagining that world, the answer would be different if music was never a concept to begin with, or if it suddenly got taken away. Also I make a living as a freelance visual artist so that’s an easy answer.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Doss – 4 New Hit Songs and FITNESS – F20 / DAE1R
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Maybe Holly Herndon, or a vocalist like Beyonce or Ella Mai.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Seeing the Boredoms around 2003 stands out. My best performance as Giant Claw was the first time I played through a sound system with huge sub bass.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
If you mean computer technology or electronics, then massively important, my music would be totally different without it. I’d probably be playing more piano, but that’s its own version of technology.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have an older brother who I don’t see that much and a younger sister who I see often, her son really likes the first 30 seconds of my song Deep Thoughts 001.
Listen to Giant Claw on Bandcamp.
Photo © Ellen Thomas